THE date was November 29, 1998 and Blackburn Rovers were losing 2-0 at Anfield when Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier summoned a young debutant from the bench with 60 seconds remaining.

Two minutes earlier Rovers caretaker manager Tony Parkes – back at the helm once more following Roy Hodgson’s exit - had brought on a £7.5m club record signing in Kevin Davies.


Liverpool’s 18-year-old substitute was little known in comparison, with not a single first-team appearance to his name. But that name was Steven Gerrard.

Few could have realised then that this would be the start of such a glittering career. He took his tally of Liverpool appearances to 702 last week.

Ever since he announced in January that he would leave Liverpool at the end of the season to join LA Galaxy, there has been much talk about the date of the FA Cup final this year.

May 30, Gerrard’s 35th birthday.

It has been painted as a fairytale end to the Liverpool career of a fairytale player.

But Rovers now have a chance to put an end to that dream.

If beating Liverpool would be a major achievement on its own, knocking out Gerrard’s Liverpool would add an extra spice for Rovers fans.

It is nothing personal against Gerrard, who should be fit for the tie, but you can imagine the headlines if Rovers were able to knock him out of the cup. It is an opportunity to make a small piece of history, an upset that would definitely be remembered.

It will be far from easy of course. Liverpool have improved since the start of the season, and now have Daniel Sturridge back in their forward line.

But the way they struggled to dispatch Bolton in the fourth round suggests they are still vulnerable.

Famous names they may be, but they are beatable.

Liverpool away, of course, has special significance for Rovers fans - this year particularly.

If the Liverpool story surrounds Gerrard, for Rovers it is a return to Anfield 20 years on from their title triumph at the very same ground.

Rovers lost 2-1 that day in 1995, but it mattered little. The title was theirs in any case.

There would be no better way of marking that anniversary than to be celebrating at Anfield again next month.

A penny for the thoughts of Kenny Dalglish – Rovers manager back then, Liverpool club ambassador now - if they are able to do just that.

Rovers have not had too many matches under the national media spotlight since relegation from the top flight, but this will certainly be one of them.

Winning at Liverpool and thwarting Gerrard to book an FA Cup semi final at Wembley?

There would be no better way of showing that Blackburn Rovers are back.